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1 "Confessions of a Shopaholic" by Sherrill Pool Elizondo

Shopping is probably in women's "gathering" genes or, at least, a family legacy handed down from one generation of women to the next. Sometimes shopping can be fun and fulfilling even when not completely necessary. Lately, though, I have been finding it much more of a chore and a challenge than a pleasure especially when it comes to shopping for myself.

Some of my fondest memories of growing up was when I went shopping with my mother starting at an early age. I learned how much enjoyment one can have in just a small dime store before or after school.

I can still find treasures in drug stores, small town stores like in Rockport, country stores, airports, and just about anywhere one can shop though I shun the malls. For a while my mother was a manager at a small downtown store in San Antonio, Texas. I was a large child and very sad that I could not get my big feet into play dress-up high heels like other little girls my age. Mother took me to the store where she worked and I picked out the prettiest pink high heeled shoes in a woman's size. Where there is a will there is a way and I bless my mother today for her thoughtfulness! As I got older, my mother and I often shopped on Saturdays at Joske's of Texas which was the first fully air conditioned store in Texas. Since we lived in a rural area, going into town was always a big occasion for me. In the 60's women would often dress up for shopping trips and I remember removing uncomfortable dress shoes from my tired and aching feet, after hours of shopping, as we walked to Mom's car. Mom liked to dress me nicely and sewed for me as a child and made beautiful dresses and some of the costumes for dance recitals. As I became a teenager, she sewed less and less as she said I had become too particular. She would haul me off to the dressmaker or we would go SHOPPING!

Today I still get a rush of delight sometimes with finding a good bargain. Even if these days I can well afford certain full priced items, I am appalled at the price of clothing and groceries and perhaps I am just showing my age. I have trouble parting with clothing and finally donating to charity or sometimes to a resale shop. I hate throwing out ANY food items and sometimes I still add up all the expenditures of the day when I have been out shopping. I can get quite fanatical and my husband has determined that I am definitely the product of Depression era parents. They tried to teach me the value of money and how one should be careful in spending it. I am not so sure I am always that careful these days but I do try.

What I hate about shopping is trying on more than one size and sometimes having nothing fit unlike having a pair of pants or a dress made to fit your true body size and shape. Who was the genius who thought that pants that ride low below the waist helps anyone's figure? I have seen women thinner than me with the "muffin top" sticking out! Shoe size? Forget it. After pregnancies, some of us go up at least a half size. Now, with grown children, I find that I am wearing a whole size larger in certain shoes. Considering I wore the same size from the age of 10 until about 35, this does not sit too well with me and shoe shopping is not always pleasurable. There is a reason shoes are displayed in about a size 6!

One of my daughters in law thinks that I am a shopaholic and should be hired as a professional shopper. Maybe she fails to see the joy and/or need that comes from shopping when you are no longer counting every penny or the good feeling that comes from shopping for grandchildren (when you give up finding something for yourself!) or that the fine art of finding the most perfect gift for someone is a gift in the giving. I have found much delight in finally shopping for little girls as I have three sons but now have two grand daughters. I also keep a gift closet. Sometimes it is stuffed (usually right before Christmas) and other times there may just be a couple of items. One year there were so many bags (luggage is in that closet too) and items started falling down and I was afraid to open the closet! It was then that I knew that it was time to gift wrap for Christmas or mail packages out of state for family to hide somewhere in THEIR home! Sometimes you find a special gift that may not be available at a later date...better to buy it at the time you see it! That same daughter in law asked me recently if I had started my Christmas shopping yet. No, but I may be thinking about it this summer. For me, this makes sense to shop year round especially having a large family with grandchildren. If one shops year round or even early before a holiday season one can reduce some stress and avoid crowds and traffic and the never ending Christmas music in the stores that starts in November or sooner these days! The surprise gifts bought online for the out of state grandchildren is great fun too.

I recently went shopping because I had a $10 store coupon at a department store. Big deal! I probably spend that much or more on Starbuck's coffee during the week. I had to use that coupon though! I did get a very good bargain on some pants and a top which had already been marked down from the exorbitant price they were originally asking for plus my discount. I bought good name brands and I hope everything fits next week! I spent hours trying on clothes. Pants that fit nicely around the hips and legs did not fit at the waist! If something fit at the waist they ballooned at the legs! Get the picture? The dressing room looked like an explosion of clothes! I don't find this much fun at all and rather depressing. Shopping in stores or online can be challenging at times and still I do it. Maybe it is a good thing I never had a daughter as I don't think I could stand up to the pressure of shopping with a teenaged girl. As it is now, I don't know if I could shop for clothes with another woman as it takes me so long.

One of my pet peeves about shopping are all of the choices. It is nice to have choices but sometimes there are just too many choices! I find this particularly true in the grocery store. If one were to carefully check out all the brands and ingredients and what is fat free, cholesterol free, gluten free, wheat free, low fat and whatever else is new; you could spend hours in the grocery store. Just look at the other aisles as well. Like the aisles for pet food, shampoo, conditioners, lotion, soap, household cleaners...the list is endless and anything and everything has their own special claims for what the product will do for you. I absolutely refuse to go to several stores and buy EVERYTHING in one grocery store and make it a point to go only once a week. I stock up on items. I hate grocery shopping. Lucky I guess in limiting my time spent there, as there are only two of us now at home. I am thankful to have the choices we are offered today but sometimes get overwhelmed particularly in the larger grocery stores which will go unnamed here.

I have never really tried a week without shopping for something for myself or for a gift for someone...even while on vacation. I doubt that I am unlike many other women. Still, I claim that I hate shopping. Guess it is one of those love/hate experiences or more often than not what is known as retail therapy. I am thinking that maybe I should try not shopping for several days and see if I have any withdrawal pains and maybe even try to grasp the concept of window shopping.

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Thanks to those of you who emailed me about this story! Some of us have the same problems!

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